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Shake a Stick At

Where do we get the expression more than you can shake a stick at? It probably just derives from counting. Imagine herdsmen bringing in their cattle or sheep at the end of the day, pointing with a stick in order to do a headcount. This is part of a...

Flounder vs. Founder

What’s the difference between flounder and founder? To flounder is “to struggle or thrash about,” while to founder is “to sink or to fail.” Surprisingly, the verb flounder shares no etymological root with the fish...

The Bee’s Knees

Let’s put the moose on the table: You have questions, and Grant and Martha have answers. For example, why would someone have an albatross around the neck? And what’s so cool about bees’ knees, anyway? Plus, jockey boxes...

Moose on the Table

Has your boss ever used the expression “Let’s put the moose on the table”? This management buzzphrase, meaning “let’s address the problem everyone’s been avoiding,” is relatively new, showing up in print...

Egg On

Why do we speak of trying to egg on a person, meaning to urge them to do something? Martha explains that the egg in this case has nothing to do with chickens. This kind of “egg” is derives from an old root that means to “urge on...

Kibble-Hole

A listener reports that when her cat starts whining, she tells it to shut its kibble-hole. If only cats understood wordplay– or English. This is part of a complete episode.